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The Union of Social Workers (USW) represents social workers at the Cambridge Health Alliance. Social workers there were looking for a way to protect their jobs and their patients, and to participate in decisions about their clinical practice. They met with different unions and chose to form a union in the model of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, in 2001.

Philosophy of USW

  • Kindness is the central building block.
  • Every person is included.
  • Mutual respect between union and management is expected.
  • We seek to solve problems using open communication and interpersonal skill rather than a lawyer.
  • Change is a product of collaboration.
  • The well being of USW and social workers at CHA is interdependent with the well being of our clients, the CHA as a whole, and the communities in which we function and live.
  • We are committed to helping individuals who are new to the field.
  • We are committed to helping social work (or other mental health worker) groups that seek to unionize.
  • As more social workers are unionized, the strength of USW will be supported and enhanced.
Learn more about the Union of Social Workers:
USW website
Check out other like-minded unions:
NEOP photos and stories
Meet some great TEA supporters at Tufts:
TEA photos and stories


Pictured above, Ana Nava is a social worker and teaching associate at the Cambridge Health Alliance. She also serves as co-president of the Union of Social Workers (USW).

Testimonials about USW

Testimonials on the what the presence and power of USW means to members, from the USW website:

  • “USW has helped restore dignity and pride in my professional identity.”

  • “Community, support (and the ability to live above the poverty line)!”

  • “USW has provided social workers with visibility, a voice, respect, and a living wage—all of which were missing before the union existed.”

  • “To me, the USW means community. A community of people that support, encourage, and defend individuals of the community for the betterment of the community.”

  • “USW has meant a living wage and a wonderful opportunity to work together with other social workers. It’s also helped make the larger hospital community more aware of social workers and their crucial role in the institution.”